Arugam Bay by Duncan MacFarlane
Trips abroad are always a tasty side-dish to the long hours on the sand that are most surf photographer’s meat-and-potatoes, but when Duncan Macfarlane got the call from 18seconds Magazine earlier this year to jump on the next plane to Sri Lanka he knew he was in for a particularly spicy assignment. Several weeks later he was back, reeking of curry, with a hard-drive full if images, a beard full roti crumbs and head full of stories about mindless right-handers.
The chef’s special on Sri Lanka’s menu-board of uncrowded points is Arugam Bay.
SPOT CHECK – Arugam Bay
Arugam Point is the main wave in the area and generally the most crowded. An average wave breaks for about 100 metres, but if you find a pearler you could ride for 300 metres or more. The wind is always best in the morning before the trades come up around 10-11am. The point can handle plenty of swell up to eight-foot.
Some 300 metres in from the Point is Inside Point. It doesn’t connect with the outside section, so don’t get too exited. On an average day this wave is a fun, gentle break for beginners learning to surf, but it’s wedgy and out of the wind.
Several hundred metre right point on sand bottom. The wave is generally about half the size of Arugam Point and is more protected from the trade winds than other places. It’s only a few kilometres away and faces roughly the same direction. The wave is further in from the tip of the point, resulting in smaller surf but better wind protection. It’s the closest point you can surf to the north of Arugam. In a Tuk Tuk it takes around 15 minutes, half tar road, half dirt road. A round trip should cost about RP1000 or AUD$10. The wave breaks incredibly close to the shore: you could almost high five someone from the shore when they’re on a wave. Almost. When the swell gets up around six-to-eight-foot, Potuvill Point is around three-to-four foot and offers a very consistent, long barreling right. Beside the surf, there are amazing rock formations, half a dozen fishing boats on the shore and one lone building on the point. You can buy the bare essentials there to keep hydrated and fed.
Whiskey Point is 500 metres past Potuvill Point. You’d almost call it the same beach. It’ll take you about 20 minutes by Tuk Tuk to get to Whiskey Point from Arugam. From Potuvill Point, it’ll take you an extra 15 minutes to drive to cover the 500 metre stretch because you have to drive all the way back to the main road and around, and in again. So it’s worth picking your spot first, or walking to the next point and getting the Tuk Tuk to meet you there, much quicker. The wave isn’t too different to every other wave there. A right, sand bottom point with some smooth rolling rocks on the tip. The wave runs for a hundred meters or so. The point runs along and the waves run close to the beach until it hits the end where the beach turns 90degrees and closes out. Whiskey picks up a lot more swell that neighbouring Potuvill but still doesn’t get quite as big as Arugam on the same swell. It is semi-protected form the trades and surfable when they’re howling. There is a really nice Warung on the point with a large, wooden deck with cushions and tables for tasty food, and cold beers post surf.
Peanut Farm is a popular ‘Plan B’ wave. It’s approximately 20 minutes south of Arugam, in the opposite direction to Potuvill. There are two separate points: the inside break which is sand-bottomed and runs for 50-100 metres and the second point which breaks just past this one. The second part has a takeoff in front of rocks on the shore and underwater. That’s about as heavy as surfing gets in Sri Lanka. On occasion, with a tad more swell and the right wave, you can connect the two points together and get a long 300-400 metre wave right through. With a solid swell, this place can produce some really good, fast and super-hollow barrels.
Other waves further out…
Big rocks roll into the ocean behind the sand-bottomed right. A fun little set up, but very open to the trade winds so you need to go early or when the trades aren’t blowing. An hour by Tuk Tuk past Peanut Farm and Panama Point.
According to Sam (surf shop owner), Lighthouse is one of the better waves of the area and one of the best tubes about too. It’s a solid 45 minutes to get there in a Tuk Tuk and is affected by the trades so the earlier you are there the better.
Sam from the surf shop wasn’t too exited about the wave. Said it’s average quality and wind affected. Google earth set up looks good though…
Here area few photos from Duncan’s trip…